Be Open to Unexpected Options

I recently worked through one of the most interesting business milestones of my career. It was one of those educational “baptism by fire” learning experiences that makes you wiser but can only be appreciated in retrospect. I found myself leading my company through an industry acquisition—something business leaders read and hear about often but live through relatively infrequently.

Bohle had been looking for a simple solution to many market-related requests and we were able to accomplish this by indentifying, approaching, convincing and ultimately acquiring Portals—an established company in the shower door hardware business—all done over the better part of a year or so.

I wouldn’t have expected this milestone eight years ago when I came to the U.S. glass market. I have always been involved in organic growth and hadn’t planned on this. But what I learned is that you have to be open to the future, to options you might not expect. Relationships that started years ago might turn into something unexpected.

Back when we first came into contact with Portals, it was clear for both companies that we shared similarities and had a common thread that we could relate to. We were competitors in the shower door hardware industry. We competed for similar customers and shared adversaries. The setting could not be more dynamic.

As competitors, there was always an arm’s-length distance between us, but we managed to keep each other as close as possible. This ultimately helped to know each other on an operational basis and learn from each other’s best business practices.

There was always a non-exclusive relationship we kept with each other. This meant using each other for information and leverage when it came to customer angles, products and potential industry maneuvers to get ahead. We had respect for each other, but I didn’t expect it to translate to anything else.

Over time, we started to bump into each other more, and in some instances helped each other out. I started to think there might be another aspect to the relationship I hadn’t contemplated before: the ability to use our existing resources to complement each other’s customer base and build something stronger and better.

Consolidation is the natural occurrence where companies look into the industry for growth and understand the logic that one plus one equals three. I didn’t start out with that as my objective, but by keeping myself open to changes in the market, I was able to come up with an unexpected option and move forward. Done correctly, the end result is an efficient way of gaining market share and delivering more value to the customer.

Gareth Francey is the president of Bohle America, a supplier of glazing & handling tools, hardware, consumables, and machinery, for all levels of the glass industry. Francey has been with the Bohle organization since 2001 and led the American division since 2010. Contact him at gareth.francey@bohle-america.com.

The opinions expressed here are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Glass Association, Glass Magazine editors, or other glassblog contributors.

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